I’ve seen dozens upon dozens — perhaps hundreds — of comments over the years on social media and elsewhere about how climate change can be dismissed as complete bunk because it’s a religion or cult.
Not only on social media, but news articles like this:
There are two ways of trying to address this comparison. The first is to attempt to show that Climate Change is not a religion as defined by the skeptic. Without exception this is the mode I’ve witnessed. In the end, at best the arguments end in a stalemate because “religion” is invariably used to pejoratively describe in the most broad terms every argument that ignores scientific facts or principles. You will always find people on any given topic who ignore science and stretch the truth (no matter how scientifically sound the basis is), thus, you are destined to come across as unprincipled and hypocritical because the skeptic can always find many examples where “climate change believers” are behaving like so called “religious zealots”.
The second approach is to discuss why religion is not at odds or in competition with science, but rather, a separate subject.
It is understandable why no one wants to touch this hot potato. When you have someone from the secular right — say, like Fox New’s Greg Gutfeld — lay out the case for climate change being a religion, the religious who agree that climate change is a hoax (for lack of a better phrase) will shut up because they agree with his conclusion. The religious who disagree on climate change will shut up because it changes the subject at hand to religion, and that doesn’t help solve the climate change debate. Finally, the non-religious who disagree will try approach #1, and lose the argument because a religion is simply defined as any group of people who have idiots in their mix who use faulty arguments, which is every group of people ever, including those who are concerned about climate change.
Let’s look at a typical example to see why this comparison falls apart.
The article starts with a quote from the philosopher and scientist Blaise Pascal.
Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.
Atheists love to use this quote to show that the religious are mindless irrationalists, which is ironic to say the least because one needs to be mindlessly irrational to interpret Pascal as anti-religious. At best, it’s a sloppy translation from French to English and stripped of all context, and at worst it’s deliberate misrepresentation of the Pascal’s theology.
Anyone vaguely familiar with philosophy has heard of Pascal’s Wager, which posits that it even if you don’t believe that God exists, you should behave as if he does. There is a similar argument about climate change: that we should behave as if it is real even if it isn’t. I suppose this is why the author used a Pascal quote, but far from rejecting religion, Blaise Pascal wrote in deference of Christianity. He certainly had his disagreements with the Catholic church, but that doesn’t make him irreligious.
There are various definitions of religion, none of which are as broad as the one climate change skeptics use. Here are some examples:
“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opiate of the people.” ~ Karl Marx
“Pure religion and undefiled before God the Father is this: To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
~James 1:27, New Testament
“Religion is to do right. It is to love, it is to serve, it is to think, it is to be humble.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Religion itself is nothing else but Love to God and Man. He that lives in Love lives in God, says the Beloved Disciple: And to be sure a Man can live no where better.” ~ William Penn
“Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence; it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines.” ~ Bertrand Russell
“A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden—beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them.” ~ Emile Durkheim
Perhaps it’s the case that labeling climate change a religion is an attempt to appeal to the Marxists (since anthropogenic climate change is often cast as repackaged Marxism by skeptics). Even if it is, refuting one lie with another doesn’t help move us toward the truth.
The article continues…
Faith is a belief held without evidence.
This is wrong. While there are some religious people who believe this, it’s not the dominant theological view. Most theological schools of thought state that faith and science are not in conflict, and that you should not just mindlessly believe what you’re told.
Most religions seek to grow by means of proselytism. Science does not seek or need converts.
This is not true. I see people proselytizing science all the time. In all likelihood, I see it proselytized more than religion. In either case, isn’t proselytizing a good thing? I mean, shouldn’t you share your understanding of climate change with others who believe differently on the topic if you think their beliefs are harmful? ?That’s certainly what climate change skeptics are doing all over the planet from Tony Heller to Patrick Moore to Alex Epstein. Does the author think these folks should stop spreading their message against climate change hysteria?
Anyway, the article goes on and on with one erroneous trope after another, all the while failing to realize that many of the traits you find with religion are things you find in non-religious ideologies as well, maybe in even higher numbers.
As best I can figure, the author defines religion as any thinking that mindlessly believes what it’s told without evidence, whether religious/ spiritual in nature or not. Why not just say “the theory is wrong because of such-and-such”? Saying that it’s a religion, therefore it’s bunk is asking us to mindlessly believe without evidence that religion is false.
There is certainly many over-the-top claims and failed predictions made by climate change proponents, but simply dismissing the entire theory as a religious cult while misrepresenting religion in the process is a very bad way to get to truth of the matter.
When you define religion as everything bad, and then find bad reasoning and methods elsewhere, you are supposed to label that thing as religious according to this thinking, so since there are ample examples where climate change believers lie or exaggerate about climate change, it’s a religion using this reasoning method.
But how about when you lie about religion, does that make climate change skepticism a religion as well?
Asking for a friend.
Way back in 2015 the great prophet of satire, Dr. Gad Saad, made the outlandishly absurd prediction that police would stop recording gender.
Today we learned that satire has become reality! He has a bad habit of predicting the future through satire so I suppose we should have seen this coming. Still, a prophet never gets taken seriously in his own country, so probably not.
Anyway, as per the CBC article above:
Ontario’s provincial police service will no longer release the gender of people who are charged with crimes and those who are victims of crimes. The policy change comes following a review of legislation and the need to be more progressive, a spokesperson said.
“When we were reviewing our standard operating procedures, we realized we were including information that was not permissible for us to release,” said Sgt. Carolle Dionne, the spokesperson for the Ontario Provincial Police.
“It doesn’t matter if it was a male or a female who was an impaired driver or speeding down the highway, what matters is that we pulled them over and laid a charge.”
As the Gadfather would put it, “Slowly we inch toward the abyss of infinite darkness. Slowly we inch.”
There are many different ways of ranking the summer. Doing it in terms of the extreme low temperature puts 2019 as the warmest on record in many western Canadian cities.
Here are three examples:
Even up in the Yukon 2019 was near the record. It’s very rare for there to be no frost into the fall like this.
Today marks the official start of a new election campaign in Canada, so expect the various political parties to try setting the narrative in their advantage.
The current governing party is the Liberal Party of Canada (the most successful democratic political party in the history of the world). One of the main reasons for their success is that they have been very effective at painting the Conservatives as a small tent party, and themselves as the big tent party. This strategy is especially effective with First-Past-the-Post voting.
Political views are often mapped out as a linear expression from left to right or a two dimensional Nolan chart with the additional liberal-conservative axis. Diagrams of this type are useful but limited in explaining how various factions within the same area interact with each other.
Enter the Venn Diagram.
We could map out Canadians in terms of progressive groups, but for this exercise we will just analyze the various conservative camps.
The basic definitions for the above chart are:
The size and overlap of the various segments can be debated, but this are my best estimate. The 50% for Cultural Conservatism is likely on the low end since polling data shows a majority of Canadians are culturally conservative. For example, I read an article in the Globe and Mail last week stating that 51% of the population wants to government to do more to secure the border.
Whatever the actual numbers, we know that far more people are culturally conservative than socially conservative on account of how the various political parties conduct their campaigns.
The Liberals will hammer home to voters that Conservatives are less comfortable with abortion than Liberals. There is no chance of the abortion laws changing in Canada, but painting Conservatives as a party that will “take away a woman’s right to choose” becomes an effective political ploy.
Conservatives will claim they love women too in hopes of gathering enough somewhat conservative voters to win. When the dust settles, typical election results in Canada tend to look like this:
But Liberal strategists try to paint Conservatives as the smallest bubble possible. That’s why they will bring up abortion at every turn.
By contrast, Conservatives will try to focus more on fiscal and cultural issues. Fiscal conservatism is a harder sell than cultural conservatism because Liberals push back that they are the ones who are better at managing the money. Also, unlike the UK where the third place party sits between the two main rivals, the Liberals in Canada have the luxury of being to the right of the 3rd string New Democratic Party (NDP), especially on fiscal issues.
The most effective strategy conservatives have today is the cultural angle. Even though many conservative politicians don’t actually support populist ideas like locking up criminals & throwing away the key or cutting back on immigration numbers, they will campaign this way because it means the difference between winning and losing — and politics is all about winning.
The Conservatives face a new challenge from the right with the new upstart People’s Party of Canada (PPC), so expect them to champion more populist ideas in the coming weeks to maintain that support.
Politics changes as the opinions and culture changes, so past strategies don’t work today, and today’s methods won’t work in the future.
With the decline of religion in the English speaking world, the left-wing parties have been very effective at scaring voters away from the main right-wing party by raising social issues.
By contrast, populism has increased to such a degree that Trump-like figures have become not only possible, but the most effective way for right-wing parties to win. A conservative need only sell himself as a cultural conservative or a populist, and he gets the attention of the majority of voters.
Some aspects of the “union left” are culturally conservative, such as the restriction on immigration to keep wages higher for lower skilled jobs. Union friendly populists who used to vote NDP in Canada, Labour in the UK, or Democrat in the USA have been shifting to the right in recently years, giving populism more focus from parties on the right. In other words, populist voters are not as evenly spread across party lines as they used to be.
South of the border, Trump can tweet offensive material all night long and still end up winning in 2020. He has been very successful of securing the large swath of cultural conservatives, many of whom voted Democrat their entire lives. Yes, he has lost some social conservatives and some fiscal conservatives, but the cultural circle is larger. The Democrats are stuck because they cannot use the same tactic that worked against Romney, which was to brand him as too religious. Trump is not anyone’s idea of a religious conservative — unlike Andrew Scheer in Canada, who is vulnerable to the charges of being too religious.
Appealing to populism is quite effective today, but as immigration numbers increase this will likely become less effective. Immigration numbers will increase because the developing world is experiencing a population boom akin to what Europe experienced 150 years ago when their populations overflowed all around the world to places like Canada.
Polling data shows that western nations are becoming more socially conservative again, in part because of more immigration, so social conservatism could be a winning strategy for conservatives again in 30 years time as Generation Z becomes the dominant culture of the day. Of course, predicting the future is a fool’s game, so who knows really what society will think in a generation from now.
All we do know is that there will be an election in Canada next month. My fool’s guess is that the Liberals win another majority government while the Conservatives win the popular vote, but time will tell.
The current heat warning for the province of British Columbia looks like this:
This might shock you, but the places most likely to get heat wave warnings in BC are Terrace-Kitmat (North Coast – inland sections), Bella Coola (Central Coast – inland sections), and Lytton – Lillooet (Fraser Canyon). In other words, the map above shows a typical summer heat wave. It also has the area most prone to thunderstorms under a severe thunderstorm watch (the Yellowhead area toward McBride averages over 20 days of rain per month this time of year thanks to those thunderstorms).
But, back to the heat…
There are two main reasons why these three areas are hot enough to fall under heat warnings more often than the rest of the province.
In the case of Terrace and Bella Coola, they have the lowest thresholds in Canada for achieving a heat warning. The forecast need only be 28°C (82°F) for two days with lows of just 13°C (55°F).
Even the Northwest Territories and Newfoundland need at forecast of at least 14°C and 15°C at night to receive a heat warning.
The Fraser Canyon has the highest threshold in Canada along with the rest of the southern interior of BC. While places like Warfield/Trail and Osoyoos frequently manage to acheive the 35°C (95°F) maximum threshold, they get too cold at night to fall under a heat warning.
Both Osoyoos and Warfield were below 14°C (57°F) this morning while Lytton only dropped to the overnight low temperature threshold of 18°C (64°F).
Bella Coola did not get quite as hot as forecast, but is still forecast to hit the 28°C threshold over the next couple of days, so the heat warning is still on.
Looking at the past four years, Terrace has managed to be hot enough to achieve a heat warning status 6.3 times per year.
The only weather station in the province with a higher count is Malahat on Vancouver Island, but that weather station is not a reference point for issuing warnings (Environment Canada typically uses one or two reference stations per forecasting zone).
Malahat is an anomaly because it sits right on top of a ridge, allowing for very warm nights, and in BC it’s the cold nights that limit heat warnings.
Moving on down the list, here is how many heat warnings you can expect elsewhere in BC:
Every time the experts and media report on the previous month’s climate in Kelowna they draw incorrect conclusions about the temperature.
Unless the month was one of the coldest on record, they will tell you that the temperature was above normal.
Here is the latest example.
“In terms of temperature, we were right around normal,” says Environment Canada meteorologist Matt MacDonald. “We were one degree warmer than normal in Kelowna. Penticton, it was a mixed bag … they were 0.6 degrees below normal, and Vernon was the opposite, 0.6 degrees above normal.“
The bolded text is patently false.
Pro tip: If you ever want to know what the weather is like in the Okanagan valley, look at Penticton. The other major weather stations cannot be compared to past climate data because the stations have been moved or have unacceptable levels of missing data.
There are two weather stations in Kelowna. The airport station has been around since 1968 and still exists today (although it has moved slightly). The other is at the university (UBCO), and has only been around since 2013 — so not long enough to generate “climate normals”.
For some very strange reason, whenever the media reports on the climatic conditions in Kelowna relative to the average they use the most recent UBCO station data and compare that to the airport’s historical data. Given the fact that the airport sits in a frost hollow, overnight temperatures are several degrees colder than elsewhere in the city, so this comparison is highly misleading.
How Did 2019 Actually Compare to the Average in Kelowna?
Kelowna’s climate normals can be found here. To save you clicking, the temperature data is as follows:
Here is how the airport measured up in 2019:
And here is how UBCO ended up in 2019:
From this data we can see exactly what Environment has done. They took the mean temperature at UBCO and compared it to the 1981-2010 mean average temperature at the airport — and then erroneously concluded that July 2019 was one degree warmer than average! If Penticton at the south end of Okanagan Lake was 0.6°C below normal, Kelowna is not going to be a full degree above normal, especially in the summer.
In actual fact, 2019 was 0.2°C below normal in terms of the mean, but since the month was so cool and cloudy, it was much colder than normal during the day. The overnight temperatures were above normal (11.9°C versus the normal of 11.1°C), but the daily highs were 26.6°C versus the average of 27.9°C.
Note that the airport had two days of missing data (because Environment Canada’s $100,000 automated weather stations glitch far more often than my own station I purchased for a few hundred dollars). There was about 8 mm of precipitation that day, so both locations should have recorded similar rainfall totals.
The article claims that Vernon was 0.6°C above normal, which is completely false if we want to compare apples to apples, although it seems that in this day and age it’s more important to get the narrative right (that we are warming at an alarming rate) than to get the facts straight.
This is scientific illiteracy on a number of fronts. First of all, the 1981-1997 period consisted of mostly wet, cool summers (much like we are enjoying this year), but more importantly, the weather station was moved and upgraded with new types of instruments.
Thankfully, Environment Canada has an easy way to scientifically compare the past to the present with their homogenized data sets. This data takes into account such factors as a change in instruments and a location move.
Using that data reveals that Vernon was not in any way warmer than average. Using the adjusted data at the Coldstream Ranch (the current station is still on the ranch but a few hundred meters away from the old station), there is data all the way back to 1900.
In 2019 the average mean July temperature was 19.7°C, so 0.6°C below the 1981-2010 normal, just as Penticton was!
Like I said, just skip all the confusion, and go straight for Penticton for you weather data.